TERRACE runner Tyler Dozzi and Charlie Dannatt from North Vancouver absolutely exploded the 3,000 metre track and field record at provincials June 3.
In what coach Bruce Deacon calls a truly epic race, the Grade 12 boys destroyed a 42-year-old record, smashing it by an incredible five seconds.
“It was a truly epic run,” said Deacon.“They absolutely smashed [the record]. They didn’t just squeak under it, they blew it away.”
Dozzi, running for Oak Bay Secondary, finished the race in an incredible 8:16.22, second to Dannatt from Hansworth Secondary who clocked 8:15.93. The prior provincial record was held for 42 years by John Martens from Burnaby South at 8:21.27.
“There are very few Canadian school boys who have run that fast,” said Deacon of the astounding time.
“[Tyler is now] numbered in the top 10 Canadian school boys ever.”
Yet for Dozzi, though he was pumped to have clocked a time he’d never thought possible, the race was bittersweet. He led the pack for nearly the entire distance, pushing the pace, while Dannatt drafted behind him. Similar to car or bicycle racing, Dannatt was able to conserve energy while Dozzi was breaking the wind. Then in the final lap, Dannatt broke out in front and took the win.
“Tyler made the race,” said Deacon. “He set the pace, he broke the wind, he did all the work really, until the last 200 to 300 metres.”
The week before, Dozzi had asked Dannatt to share the lead and attempt to break the record together, but Dannatt had refused, preferring to draft Dozzi until the end of the race.
But Deacon was proud of Dozzi’s response and the character it showed.
“He has every reason to be a little ticked off, because he did all the work,” said Deacon, “but he finished the race and said ‘well, the best guy won on the day.’”
When asked how it felt, Dozzi acknowledged it was tough.
“It was a bit of a bittersweet ending,” he said. “Knowing that I had led the whole race…breaking the wind, hitting those times while the other person is just in there behind you… and the fact that I had broken this seemingly impossible record, and then not getting to hold the record myself..”
But Dozzi was gracious, speaking of Dannatt as a friend, and said the race was still incredible.
“I wasn’t sure we could run that fast… I think we surprised ourselves as much as we surprised everybody else there,” said Dozzi.
“When I crossed the finish line, I thought the clock was wrong. I didn’t even think we’d gone that fast during the race, I’d stopped paying attention to the split.”
Dozzi added that he was grateful to all the people at the race who encouraged him and expressed admiration for his record-pursuit.
Dozzi’s next race is the 5K at the Portland Track Festival, where he’s gunning to qualify for Team Canada and the Pan American Games.
The two fastest runners in Canada will make the team, and Dozzi is shooting to clock 14:20 or less in order to earn a spot. His goal has climbed after his astounding provincial finish.
“I’m pretty hopeful, pretty optimistic,” said Dozzi. “The (provincial) 3K indicates I’m in better shape than I thought I was… whether or not I make the Pan Am team… I hope to run a fast time regardless.
“I’m just looking forward to the rest of the season, I’ve got a lot ahead of me and I’ve got some pretty big goals for the future,” he said.